This morning Athletic Bilbao tweeted they had rejected a bid from Manchester United for 24-year-old midfielder Ander Herrera. For Manchester United this will be a case of deja-vu as they saw a January deadline day move for the player descend into a “farce”.
A statement on the Athletic Bilbao club website read: “The Athletic Club wishes to report that this week it rejected an offer from Manchester United FC, estimated at €36m, to transfer the federation and economic rights of the player Ander Herrera.”
The midfielder, who played 29 times in La Liga for the Basque club last season, would become Louis Van Gaal’s first signing at the Red Devils as he continues the interest shown by former boss David Moyes. The £28.85 million bid was believed to have activated a buy-out clause which was thought to rise to £32 million on July 1; however, this now appears not to be the situation.
Despite the set-back Manchester United will be confident they can complete the deal for Herrera who helped Bilbao to a fourth placed finish during 2013/14. Whilst he is yet to make his debut for the full Spanish national side, Herrera was active at age group levels and represented his country at the London 2012 Olympics where he impressed.
Athletic Bilbao have a reputation for being tough negotiators as well as effective producers of home-grown players. Their policy of only buying Basque players have led to them developing some of the great talents throughout Spanish national team history. Examples of these are Telmo Zarra who scored 20 in 20 for Spain between 1945-51 and Andoni Zubizarreta legendary goalkeeper of the 1980-1990s. In recent years they have been behind the emergence of Javi Martinez (now at Bayern Munich) and Fernando Llorente (now at Juventus).
Will Ander Herrera join this list of former Bilbao alumni? I for one believe so!